Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Thoughts on Oscar Nominees

Part of me wants to write full reviews of "The King's Speech" and "The Fighter" - not to mention "The Social Network," "Inception," "The Kids are Alright," and "Toy Story 3" (my review of True Grit is below) - but the Oscars are tomorrow and I have to work on some school work at some point today.

What I will do, though is provide you with brief blurbs on each of the movies listed above, and give you my apologies that I did not attempt to see Black Swan, Winter's Bone, or 127 hours before Feb 27th. Some of those movies just seemed to dark for me, and for the other, I just ran out of time. Forgive me?

I will ALSO provide you with my votes for the main Oscar races. Oh yeah, baby, now you're about to increase your chances of winning your office Oscar pool by about 7.6%. (Or you would have been, had I submitted this prior to the weekend)

The King's Speech: I thought this movie was phenomenal. I loved so much about it, for more reasons even just that Collin Firth was in it. This was a chance for him to not play a buffoon, but instead to come to the screen with gravitas and heart - and he brought it!. Similar to last year's "A Single Man" - for which Firth received his first best actor nod - Firth is allowed to express his emotion and really stretch himself. I also loved the relationship between Bertie and his wife (the terrifically poised Helena Bonham Carter), and between him and Lionel, his speech therapist. I learned about England and WWII, and enjoyed watching someone overcome a limitation. Five microphones out of five.

The Fighter: Standout performances from Christian Bale and Melissa Leo make this movie for me. I thought the story was great  - the tension that Micky Ward feels as he tries to become his own man, torn between his love for his brother and his family and the love and support of a woman. I also loved that this story (like King's Speech) was based on a true story. Watching the Ecklund and Ward family come apart and then come together was exciting and moving, and I was surprised at how little I minded the boxing aspect, even though sometimes I had to close my eyes. Five half-shirts and shots of scotch out of 5.

The Social Network: If this is how it all really happened, then wow. The problem is, because it is based on "real events" it makes people think that this IS really how it all happened - rather than one perspective on the cah-ray-ziness that is the Facebook story. I thought that the supporting cast in this movie was particularly strong. I don't much care for Jesse Eisenberg, because I felt like he was so wooden in the movie and I think that doesn't ring true for me. However, as a whole, great film, worth watching, and will get you thinking about your use of the web in general, and facebook for sure. Three friend requests out of five.

Inception: Loved it. Memento is one of my favorite suspense movies, and Inception was like it for the way that Christopher Nolan bent time and space to create alternate realities. I enjoyed this movie a lot, but in my mind it does not reach the heights overall of The Fighter or The King's Speech. Leonardo DiCaprio continues to be enjoyable as an actor and a friend of mine and I were saying that he is becoming so versatile that we think his real acclaim (in terms of awards etc) won't be until later in life. He is like a Henry Fonda or a Robert DeNiro, great and notable in their youth, but outstanding in their adulthood (Little Fockers not withstanding). Very entertaining and for sure worth your $$ at the Redbox. Four levels out of five.

The Kids are Alright: Outstanding acting and a dramatic and interesting plot elevated this movie to an Oscar nomination. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore were really excellent as a married couple, and I think portrayed a very realistic view of what marriage can be, in all the ups and downs. Their fights, in particular, we so realistic that by the time we got to them, and to the subsequent slow reconciliation, I was right there along with them. I didn't love the adultery theme/aspect of the movie. I think it would have been equally as strong without it, with just the tension of the sperm dad in the family, but then again, I could do will less adultery in movies in general. Four bottles of wine out of five.

Toy Story 3: It was a sweet movie that managed somehow to both capture the imagination while also providing closure for anyone who is going through a transition that involves leaving something/someone dear behind. I can't say it was my favorite movie of the year (or the best picture winner) but it was delightful and I loved it. 3-D didn't add much for me, but it was used appropriately. Four big babies out of five.

And now on to my pics to "win it all" - acknowledging that I have not seen all the movies/performances nominated - - - these are just my opinions, based on what I did see. Oh, and only for the categories for which I really understand the meaning (i.e. I don't know what art direction is, so I'm not listing a prediction here).

Best Picture: The King's Speech
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Colin Firth (esp. after last year's nom, I think they'll give it to him)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Christian Bale
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Annette Bening (though I suspect there could be upsets here)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Melissa Leo (though I want Hailee Steinfeld to win)
Cinematography: Inception (though I would have nominated The Fighter)
Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
Director: Tom Hooper for the King's Speech (going with it, though David O.Russell (the fighter) is my close second
Editing: The Fighter
Music (original score): Inception
Writing (adapted screenplay): Social Network by Aaron Sorkin (that dialogue was wicked good)
Writing (original screenplay): The King's Speech by David Seidler

There ya have it friends! What are your pics for the awards? What did you think of the movies above?